Leadership, Risk and Faith: Jonathan & his Armor Bearer

photo credit: Brendan Powell Smith

One of the primary ways that truth is revealed is through story.

This is especially evident in the pages of Scripture. God’s  metanarrative opens eyes to see the characteristics of humanity, the competing ugliness and beauty of the world, and the mystery of the divine.

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First Samuel chapter 14 tells a fascinating story. It is a time of war. Israel and Philistia are locked in battle. King Saul has stumbled a bit as the leader of the nation, and he can’t even supply his army with swords and spears.

Philistine raiding parties are encroaching on more Israeli territory. Saul and his soldiers camp at Migron, but they aren’t making a strong move against the Philistines.

The king’s son, Jonathan, is eager for battle against the enemy.  Jonathan hatches an idea, and his armor bearer follows him boldly into battle. They take godly risks in faith that it is the right thing to do, and God will act with them.

A few things that stand out in this story:

In taking risks…

  1. Know that God works. And He wants us to join Him.
  2. Draw strength and wisdom from supportive relationships.
  3. Have vision for next move.
  4. Have a plan of action (and a contingency plan).
  5. Know when to stand or fight.
  6. Be ready to act when the right time comes. Follow through. Be faithful and consistent.
  7. Be prepared for God to do even bigger, unexpected things (earthquake, panicking Philistines) (v15).
  8. Know who the enemy is (and who isn’t).
  9. Leaders must lead. They should lead followers boldly into conflict, not try to manage everyone into safety (v17).
  10. Know your identity in a time of confusion (v20).
  11. Expect God to save (v23).
  12. Don’t commit to a foolish vow or self-imposed restriction (v24). Don’t limit yourself or others based on a day’s outcome. Your identity or value doesn’t change because of your worst day or your best day.
  13. A foolish vow/restriction can cause you to compromise important values. In the story, the famished Israelites completed the vow but rushed to eat lambs without draining the blood, which was breaking a covenant with God! (v33).
  14. Own up to your sins. Accept responsibility (v43).


How do you understand the relationship between leadership, risk and faith?


Read more on ideas in Scripture.

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